Sebastien Bassong’s return is perfect timing for Norwich City

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Christopher Lee/Getty ImagesNorwich City captain Sebastien Bassong will be back in the fold for the Canaries' clash versus Southampton.

Southampton's attacking arsenal commands respect this weekend, so the return of Norwich City's talisman Sebastien Bassong could not be better timed.

The Canaries' newly-anointed team captain played his first competitive 90 minutes of the season in the midweek Capital One Cup 6-3 dismantling of Bury at Carrow Road.

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Bassong's debut season in Norfolk saw him break Grant Holt's monopoly of the annual player-of-the-year award voted for by supporters. The Cameroon international was an impressive, often defiant figure at the heart of a City backline that was routinely tested with Chris Hughton opting for a counter-attacking mindset to help guarantee the club's top flight survival.

Bassong and Michael Turner forged an impenetrable partnership at times that underpinned a Premier League club record 10-match unbeaten run. Those exertions eventually took a heavy toll on both. Turner missed the last few games of the season with a groin injury before undergoing summer surgery on a damaged shoulder. Bassong also went under the knife to clean out a knee which had forced him to endure a pain threshold that restricted his ability to train between matches.

Neither were fit enough to travel to the U.S. for the club's three-date tour. Turner returned for the final warm-up games, but Bassong has been gently coaxed back to action. That in itself is a measure of how highly valued a commodity the defender is to Hughton and Norwich's cause. The manager made it clear he was adopting a risk-free treatment strategy designed to ensure Bassong is available for the long haul.

Southampton do not have the exclusive rights on attacking talent. Norwich have recruited some highly-rated raw material in the form of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Nathan Redmond, Gary Hooper and Johan Elmander this summer, but Bassong is one of the key ingredients to the mix. Hughton has shown no desire to abandon the strategy that carried the club to an 11th placed finish. City's close season splurge is designed to upgrade the pieces within a familiar jigsaw. Bassong will remain one of the first names on Hughton's team sheet. The 27-year-old is a captain by example. He is as softly-spoken off the pitch as he is combative on it. A leader of men by deed, not by oration.

City will need that and more to subdue a Southampton side that have added judicious recruitment to a squad that grew in stature during their debut campaign. The sides fought out a drab, goalless stalemate in last season's corresponding fixture, after Artuc Boruc denied Holt from the penalty spot in stoppage time, but the Saints carried most of the attacking thrust and verve with Rickie Lambert seamlessly supported by raiding parties down the flanks in the creative shape of Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez. Mauricio Pochettino has bolstered his midfield over the summer with the purchase of Victor Wanyama, but it is the arrival of Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo and a potential Carrow Road full debut this weekend that drops another imponderable into the equation.

Just one more reason to herald Bassong's return.


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